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Full text of "Education of the masses of the people : an address delivered at the request of the Athenaean Society before the literary societies of Catawba College, on the 16th day of November, 1854"

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James Graham Ramsay 


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tfatatote €sHt^t, 

ON THE 16th day OF NOYEMBEIl, 1854. 




T^ ' Tn i-acling, omU the. first line on tli. 

iine, ontlielltlipage. 

North .Carofins Siaig ytiar^ 



^ ___ 







Catatota C0lkge, 

ON THE 16th day OF ]N"OYEMBEK, 1854, 



\ i ... 



Athen^ak Hall, Catawba College^ 1 

November 16, 1854. j 

Sir ;— We, the undersigned, as representatives of the Athena?an Society, 
tender to you onr thanks for the very able and eloquent address, delivered 
before the two Literary Societies on the 16th of November, and ajj such, re- 
quest of you a copy of the same for publication. 

Accept through us, for the Society, an assurance of the great pleasure es- 
perienced during its delivery, and permit us to express our heart-felt wishes 
for your present prosperity and future welfare. 

We remain with the greatest esteem, your ob't serv'ts, 

^ , ^ J. M. ABERNATHY, 

Db. J. G. Ramsay. Commitiee. 

Palermo, Rowan Co., N. C, 
Dec. 20, 1854. 


Gentlemen :— Your note, requesting a copy of the address for publication, 
which I had the honor of delivering before the Literary Societies of Catawba 
College, on the 16th ult , is now before nie. Feeling encouraged by your 
approbation, and indulging the hope that the address may meet with a chari- 
table reception from the public, I shall no longer hesitate to comply with your 

Accept my thanks, gentlemen, for the courteous manner in which you have 
communicated the wishes of the Society : and with my best wishes for its 
prosperity and that of the College, and for your individual happiness and 
welfare, I subscribe myself. 

Your obliged and obedient servanf, 

J. P. Graham, A. G. Clapp, J. M. Abernathy, Co7nmittee. 




Gentlemem ^ the Literary Societies of i 

Catawba College : I 

NoTHmG, perhaps, is more universally acknowledged than } 

human fallibility. So vividly indeed, has this truth im- ? 

pressed itself upon the minds of men, that it has long since ) 

passed into a proverb. Hence, men have ever been engag- } 

} ed in the pursuit of some means, either real or imaginary, ) 

) bv which thev mio^ht meliorate tJieir condition. The fact } 

^ that they hav-e often failed, and that in the pursuit they ) 

/ have often fallen into the pitfalls and quagmires of the great- ) 

) est degradation and misery, only proves that they have been ) 

) active and sincere, notwithstanding they have been led on s 

) by th-e lurid and deceitful glare of the ignusfatuus of hope ) 

— a perverted fancy — that even in the repulsive abyss of \ 

such degradation, there might be found, some means of J 

happiness and melioration. \ 

But experience, the dear school in which the human fami- S 

} Iv seems destined alone to learn, has lono; since demonstra- ) 

''> ted that the pursuit of happiness through the channels of S 

misery is not only ridiculous and absurd, but disastrous in \ 

the extreme. Hence, the human family has turned its eyes \ 

towards the light : and at this day, in theory at least, men \ 

> ;— — ' ^ • 

{ regard intellectual and moral illumination as the surest [ 

■ nieans of happiness and usefulness. And wisely so tox> y i 

i for ever since the Jiat of the Creator went forth "in the be- i 

I ginning" — when chaos and darkness ruled supreme over > 

I the material globe, "and the earth was without form and ); 

void," saying " let there be light," intellectual and moral, > 

as well as physical light, has demonstrated its necessity and i 

vindicated its utility. \ 

S But as the light which shone forth, in the beginning, was > 

I not partially diffused, so should it be with the lights of sci- > 

I ence and religion ; their diffusion should not be partial, — • ^ 

t confined to a favored few and destined for the benefit of a S 

( part alone — ^but should be as generously and liberally dis- > 

^ seminated throughout the whole race of mankind, as the i 

(J rays of the sun in the heavens are shed in brilliant efful- ( 

^ gence around the globe. But such has not been the case. { 

I It is lamentable to loolv back, even to the most enlightened ( 

) ages of the world, and behold tlie ignorance of the masses ( 

I of the people. A few Poets, Oratore and Philosophers, it ( 

; is true, stand out in bold relief, to^ rescue tliose ages from ^, 

oblivion ; but they are only ' stars glittering on the mantle 
of night,' and owe their recognition and importance to the 
absence of the bright day-orb of science shedding abroad 
his genial rays over the masses of the people. 

To what else, but to the ignorance of the people, and the 
corruption or still grosser ignorance of the rulers, can we 
attribute the tame submission of the people to the prepos- 
terous ideas which have so long held sway in the world, re- 
specting the prerogatives of Kings — to the postulate that 
the great mass of mankind were made to be slaves, " hew- 
ers of wood and drawers of water," to spend their time, 


talents, labor and property to feed the pride and arrogance 
of one man, no better than themselves, and to the doctrine 
that education and the light of science were intended for 
the benefit of a few alo\ie ; while the oi polloi — the com- 
mon herd — were not considered as designed or fit to be the 
recipients of their blessings ? Such opinions and practices 
— common even at this day, promulgated, it is true, under 
more specious names and savory titles, by men of renown 
and occupants of comm-anding positions- — ^have long held 
the human family in vassalage. 

and defends her purlieus, her dominions are attacked and 
much of her territory is conquered. An idea has gotten 
abroad in the w^orld, of late years, that the gifts of a bounti- 
ful Providence are not intended for ^ few alone, but for the 
whole human family— that governments and laws are not 
formed for the accommodation of one, but of all men — that 
rulers are made for the people and not the peojDle for the 
rulers, and that science and religion are as much the birth- 
right of the whole human family, as of Priests and Popes. 
The elevation of the masses is the paramount idea of tlie 
present age : and the necessity of educating the musses of 
the 2)eo2J>le, especially under our form of government, shall 
be the theme upon which I will submit a few thoughts for 
the conusideration of this respected assembly. 

When I speak of education, I shall use the word in its 
broadest and most beneficent sense ; as embracing what- 
ever is conducive to the health and vigor of the body — the 
activity, energy and power of the mind; and the generous 
and benevolent impulses of the soul. The discipline 
of tiie intellectual and moral faculties, and their equal 
and simultaneous development is as necessary to per- 

But notwithstanding ignorance still retains her throne { 


— — — ^ 

fection in psychical development, as the integrity of the \ 

heart, the lungs and the hrain is indispensable to phjs- l 

ical life and health. Such an education is not common : ( 

nor is it altogether the fault of our Schools and Col- \ 

leges that such is the case. In order to- its acquisition ( 

the indoctrination of the Great Teacher — he who hath all ^ 


( tended for, in some of the States, by the minions of the Pope 

( wisdom and goodness, as well as all knowledge and power 

^ — is necessary. But is it not true that the intellect alone is ^' 

/ too generally the only object of scholastic discipline? Is ^ 

) not the health of the body and the soul too much neglected ? ^ 

) Else why the weak, dyspeptic and phthisical frames, and ( 

) the dissipated, abandoned and skeptical morals, of too i&any { 

) of the Bachelors of Art annually sent forth from our Col- ( 

leges ? S 

Although I am not one of those that believe, that all vir- I 

tue belongs to the days and is buried with the bones of our ; 

fathers ; still, I believe, we may learn many useful lessons ; 

from the history of the past. And, perhaps, w^e may thence S 

derive some salutary information, relative to the imper- S 

fections in our present system of education. The system of i 

exercise which the ancients obliged their youth to take, es- ( 

pecially that taught in the Palestra and Gymnasium, although ( 

instituted for purposes that would be useless for us — yet cer- { 

tainly, furnishes useful hints to the effeminate youth and \ 
sedentary scholars of the present day. The paramount im- 
portance, also, which our fathers attached to the Bible, as a 
school book, and to religious instruction as a prime element 
in the training of the youthful mind, might, perhaps, be 
considered with profit, at this time, when the entire ostra- 
cism of " the book of books " from the schools is advocated ; 
and when a monopoly of the common school fund, is con- 


') of Rome, wlio have lately, in this land of Protestant liberty, 

) literally burned to ashes the Holy Bible. While it is a 

s matter worthy of gratulation and thanks that the institii- 

) tions of learning in our own State, are, comparatively, 80 

S free from the causes, that are sapping and corroding tlie 

<^ character of the young in other places, I am sorry to in- 

<^ sinuate a fear that we are as slow to appreciate, as to dis- 

^ cliarge the duty, we owe to ourselves and to our chil- 

? dren, in 2:uardinof the avenues of innovation and vice. Our 

) ' O CD 

^ virtue, I fear, is too much of that negative character, tliat 

) owes much of its importance to the fact, that we are seldom 

') tempted. Let us then reassure ourselves of our safety ; 

) and see to it that we are wide awake, and doing our duty : 

) for lamentable, indeed, will be the time when some of the 

J Utopian doctrines and schemes of the present day, shall 

$ more fully ripen from theory into practice: and nothing 

) can, so surely, prevent their introduction and prevalence 

) among us, as a thorough inculcation of a christian educa- 

) tion. into the heads and hearts of the youth of the land. 

) ^ '^ 

'\ It may not be amiss, at this point, to take a retrospective 

) glance at the pages of history, and to adduce a few facts 

< from the learning, science and philosophy of the past, in 

< order to reconcile the student to mental discipline, as well 
I as to incite him to diligent application in the acquisition of 
( knowledge. 

) It has been said that " history is philosophy teaching 

) by example." If so, we should scan its pages with dili- 

) gence, and stow away, with the utmost care, its jewels of 

^ wisdom. Among the multitude of its facts and truths, we 

^ find evidence of this one — that the cultivation of the arts 

I and sciences has always exercised a beneficial influence 

) over those countries and times in which it has prevailed. 


A contrast of tlie Aiigustine age of Koman literature, not- { 

withstanding all its social and civil deformities, witli tlie 5 

gross darkness of tlie ten centuries, wlien tlie little learning } 

that escaped the desolation of the times was incarcerated } 

in the cell of the monk and the cave of the anchorite, when ; 

the clergy were nnable to read the liturgy, and the potentates ) 

of the times — including the great Charlemagne — were un- ^ 

able to w^rite their own names, is a too common and glar- i 

iiig elucidation of this position, to need more than a passing J\ 

notice. i 

But, notwithstanding education among the ancients, was 
hy no means generally diffused ; and the Helots of Greece 
and tlie Plebians of Rome were not the only ignorami of 
their times or nations, yet that knowledge which the Grecian 
philosophers obtained, only, at such an immense cost of 
time, travel and study — barren and unfruitful as it may ap- 
pear, when examined in this age and applied to our times 
• — still exercised a powerful influence over the character 
and destiny of the Greeks. After the death of Plato, his 
disciples divided themselves into two classes : Xenocrates 
delivering his oral discourses in the groves of Academus, 
and Aristotle discoursing his subtilties to the Peripatetics > 
as he perambulated the porticoes of the Lycjeum. Other S 
schools sprang up and disputations among the rival sects S 
were rife and ingenious. Much of this, it is true, was only \ 
learned twattle ; but much also was instructive. This col- \ 
lision and attrition of mind with mind could not fail to de- { 
velope great mental capacity as well as originate and eluci- ( 
date mucli science. \ 

But however beneficial ancient philosophy miglit have \ 
been, it fell far short of the philosophy of more modern ^ 
times. It was reserved for a Bacon and a Descartes to pro- ; 



^ pound to the world a pliilosopliy worthy of the name — a 

^ system of induction and synthesis, to a great extent, sup- 

/ planting the deduction and analysis of the ancients. The 

j system of Bacon was practical and utilitarian : that of Plato 

) was speculative, and too often ban*en and unfruitful. "The 

S aim of the Platonic philosophy was to exalt man into a God. 

^ The aim of the Baconian was to provide man with what lie 

{ requires Avhile he continues to be a man. The aim of the 

^ Platonic philosophy was to raise us far above vulgar wants. 

\ The aim of the Baconian was to supply our vulgar wants. 

< The former was noble, but the latter was attainable." 

) Plato was a heathen, but Bacon was a christian philo- 
sopher. Hence the superiority of the latter over the former. 
Bacon \\Tote, in the 23aimy days of Elizabethean English 
literature. Fifteen centuries had rolled by since " lie who 
spake as never man spake," had taught his divine philo- 
sophy on the mountain of Gallilee. Luther, Melancthon, 
Knox and Calvin had sat the ball of the Keformati on in mo- 
tion, and it was still rolling on, in all its majestic splendor. 
The energies of the powerful mind of Bacon could not lie 
dormant on such a sublime su])ject — especially in such ex- 
citing times as prevailed during the sitting of the Synod of 
Dort. One of his reviewers (Macauley) has asserted his 
belief that Bacon was " a sincere believer in the divine au- 
thority of the Christian religion." Such a belief, doubtless 
stamped his philosophy with that spirit of benevolence and 
utilitarianism which renders it so pre-eminent. 

But it has been objected to the philosophy of Bacon, that 
it has produced a reign of Mammonism, and rendered the 
age in which we live too utilitarian. In other words, that 
it has abstracted the minds of men from the ideal, and spir- 
itually sublime, and centered them on the grosser range of 



waiTior ; spanned great rivers and estuaries with bridges of 
material objects. While I acknowledge and deplore, the 
prevalence of the baleful influence of Mammonism, I must 
confess myself at the same time a utilitarian in the broadest 
and most comprehensive sense of the term. I only condemn 
the love of money when it is sought for to be hoarded up in 
the miser's coffers, or to be expended in the cultivation of 
vice and the gratification of the sensual appetites. Extend 
its acquisition and expenditure to the cultivation of the mind 
and the morals, or to any object calculated to benefit indi- 
viduals and society, and we have utilitarianism, transcen- 
dental enough in all its bearings for me. It is generous and 
noble to love and to cultivate science for its own sake, and 
to separate ourselves from the world and regale our fancy 
with its sublime revelations. But if we stop at this point 
and refuse to bless mankind with the fruits of our investiga- 
tions— -with something material and tangible — we are as 
selfish and misanthropic as the miser, and our wisdom as 
useless as ' the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.' We 
may admire the heroism of the Stoic who endeavors in his 
metaphysical reveries to counteract the evils of bodily pain, 
by holding it in contempt ; but while we admire we cannot 
but be moved with pity and amusement. 

" For wlio can hold a fire in his hand 
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus ? 
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite, 
By bare imagination of a feast ?" 

Yet, such is the philosophy of the ancients, and such is also 
its impracticable working. Still, there are many who, for its 
sake, depreciate the Baconian philosophy. But we cannot but 
highly appreciate that ]^hilosophy which has, by material 
and appreciable means, " lengthened life ; mitigated pain ; 
extinguished diseases ; increased the fertility of the soil ; 


. __ ■ ^ 

given new security to the mariner ; furnished new arms to the { 

form and beauty unknown to our fathers ; guided the thun- < 

derbolt innocuously from heaven to earth ; lighted up the ( 

night with the splendor of the day ; extended the range of { 

human vision ; multiplied the power of the human muscle ; ^ 

accelerated motion ; anniliilated distance ; facilitated inter- ( 

course ; enabled man to descend into the depths of the sea, ( 

to soar into the air, to penetrate securely into the noxious { 

recesses of the earth, to traverse the land on cars which } 

whirl along without horses, and the ocean in ships which c 
sail against the wind," and to transmit intelligence from re- 
mote points, '' in the twinkling of an eye," without a post. 
Such are the utilitarian fruits of the Baconian philosophy. 
Of such a philosophy we may exclaim, with Milton, 

" How charming is divine philosophy ! 
Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose, 
But musical as is Apollo's lute; 
And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets, 
Where no crude surfeit reigns." 

But I contend further, that christian education, which is the 

handmaid of modern philosophy, is amply vindicated from } 

the aspersions of its enemies, by the truth of history. As / 

an evidence of this, let us for a moment, revert to the rev- ^ 

olutions and wars of nations. The fact that religious wars S 

are generally conceded to be the most vindictive and bloody ^ 

of all wars, is cited, by those who entertain opposite opin- ( 

ions to our own on this point, as an evidence that our posi- S 

tion is unsound and untenable. It is true, that when men ( 

are moved by principle —by a conscientious sense of duty ^ 

• — ^they will be, and ought to be firm and unyielding, even { 

to death itself. But Christianity solemnly denounces war ; \ 

and it will be found, upon a careful and impartial analysis ( 

of the wars and revolutions of modern times, that the bene- / 

f 12 


licent influence of science and religion, lias mitigated their 
severity and shortened their duration. To what other cause 
than to the prevalence of greater moral culture in England 
than in France, can we attribute the fact, that the revolu- 
tions of 1641-88 in the former country, were so much 
milder in their progress and happier in their results, than 
those of 1793-4 and of subsequent times in the latter ? Are 
the names of Robespierre and Marat to be compared with 
those of Hampden and Pym ; or will the results of the great 
battles of Austerlitz and Waterloo bear a comparison 
with those battles of Marston, Moore and Worcester ? — 
The progress of the reformation produced the revolutions of 
England : its re-action those of France. The unprovoked 
slaughter of the six thousand Huguenots, on the feast of St. 
Bartliolemew, was alone worthy of a people, who, under 
the influence of the infidel teachings of Yoltaire, Rousseau 
and Diderot, could bow down and worship the goddess of 
Reason, and rise up and j)roduce the reign of Terror 
under the direction of the demon of Faction. When the 
Puritans of Old England petitioned King James I., for 
the privilege of assembling together and freely discussing 
religious matters, he exclaimed, " you are aiming at a Scot's 
Presbytery, which agrees with monarchy as well as God 
with the Devil." The monarch — unwitingly no doubt' — • 
paid the Presbytery too great a compliment, by comparing 
it to God ; while he likened monarchy to the Devil. Be 
that as it may, much of the spirit of the Great Master ac- 
tuated the Puritans who fled from monarchical persecutions 
to this country, and in time, eflPected the model revolution 
of the world. Had the haughty monarch of England grant- 
ed the petition of the Purtians, America might have enjoy- 
ed civil and religious liberty withoict a seven years war. 


But tlie revolution of 1776 caine ; and having its origin in ( 

an intelligent and holy sentiment — the inalienable right of ( 

man to self-government — it is not surprising that many of \ 

those atrocities, that mark the progress of wars originating \ 

from other causes, should be sought for in vain in that con- ) 

test ; and that it should have resulted in tlie triumphant j 

vindication of the right of man, to seek happiness in the free } 

exercise of all his faculties, for the good of himself and man- j 

kind. ) 

Let it not be forgotten that education was the handmaid 

of the principles, that produced our revolution. It has ever j 

vindicated their integrity and illustrated their worth. We ) 

inherit both as our birthright to-day. Let us cherish both ) 

— and while the temple of liberty stands, may it, like the } 

statue of Memnon, continue to utter sweet music as long as ) 

the sun of science shall rise and revolve through the heavens. ) 

Having, thus, endeavored to demonstrate the necessity of I 

education, by adducing historical and inferential proofs of ^ 
its meliorating influence upon individuals and nations, I 
consider its utility established ; and shall proceed, as brief- 
ly as possible, to argue the corrollary — that its diffusion 
should be in proportion to its necessity. The necessity of 

the partial diffusion of education, as we have seen, has long ') 

since been acknowledged. But its general diffusion among ) 

the masses, and all peoples, although generally conceded, ) 

is still, even at this day, considered by many more desira- ) 

ble than practicable. Tlie Father of his country declared ) 

in his ever memorable farewell address to his countrymen, ) 

that, " in proportion as the structure of a government gives \ 

force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion \ 
should be enlightened." The structure of our government 

gives almost unlimited force to public opinion. Its framers { 


having been tanglit by hard experience not to put their 
trust in Princes, concluded to found the government upon 
tlie virtue and intelligence of the people : believing that by 
combining interest with the proper exercise of power, the 
happiness and prosperity of the whole, would be secured 
and completed, by the intelligent and virtuous exercise of 
author! ty» With us then — to use one of Mr. Webster's 
beautiful figures— the pyramid of government stands upon 
the broad basis of popular sovereignty ; and is not as in 
kingly dominions, unnaturally upheaved and poised upon 
the insecure apex of One Man power. 

( .. .,,.,. ^ 

Supreme power should always be vested where there is 

) the greatest wisdom and virtue. With us, it is vested in ) 

-' . , , , ^ 

■ our three millions of voters. They are the men wdio con- ) 

( trol pul)lic opinion and make tlie laws of the land. They j' 

'( are '^ the citizen kings,''^ the sovereigns, in the United States. ) 

In the vesting of political power, the framers made a heavy \ 

/ draua'ht on the intelli«:ence and wisdom of these men. Thev \ 

■) knew that education and religion had a great work to per- J 

) form. Seeing that liowever virtuous their cotemporaries [ 

;^ were, they were greatly deficient — as a mass — in education, ( 

5 thev looked forward with an abiding confidence, that the 

^ intelligent patriots of subsequent times, Avould carry out and \ 

<j complete the grand scheme which they had only begun, by \ 

y educating the masses of the people. ij 

(. The nineteenth century stands far ahead of every other, ) 

\ in the ireneral diffusion of useful knowledge : and our own ) 

V country is fast attaining — if it has not already advanced — ) 

\ to the van of other nations in this great work. With all ) 

this, we are only babes in popular knowledge. Kot only \ 

our electors, but our whole people have wisdom and virtue \ 
to learn. The jolts and jars, wliich we feel and hear in the 


; working of the whole machinery — whether of society or c 

) policy — is evidence of this fact. If this is not the case, why ^ 

; 'have we a reign of mediocrity ? Why the prevalence of I 

^ the baleful " isms " of the day ; and especially why is dema- c 

; gogueism so rampant and potential ? The answer is obvious. ^ 

J The body politic is diseased. Thepeople, as a mass, are either ? 

J ignorant, or corrupt, or both. How can it be otherwise, when / 

) the umpirage of public opinion is decisive in all things? ( 

j The demagogue is only a creature of the people. The sup- ) 

\ ply of merchandise does not more surely keep pace with the / 

S demand, than the existence of time-servers and demagogues ) 

I tallies w^itli the call for their services. As a general rule, ; 

\ we need not expect that those, who sue for popular favor, ) 

I as the means of gaining positions of honor or profit, will S 

( advocate any system of policy — however salutary — in ad- ' 

( vance of public opinion, or in contravention of its known 

f decisions. Politicians are not fonder of cutting their jugu- \ 

^ lars than other people ; and it is unwise and ungenerous to '{ 

I denounce them for not doing so. Mere declamation against < 

^ the effect will never remove the cause. The wound must '[ 

^ be probed to the bottom. The riglit way is to follow the 

j advice of Mr. Jefferson, and " inform the discretion of the 

^ people by education." 

) This must be done, or the most disastrous consequences 

) may ensue to the Union, and to the people. But how must 

^ it be done? Certainly, not by those directly dependent 

) upon the smiles or frowns of the people ; but by those the ! 

) farthest removed from the same- — by the liberally endowed , 

( common school and College. "When the voutli of the conn- 

( try are properly educated in these, and become men and ' 

< citizens, they will have th6 intelligence to see their interest ' 

J, and duty, and the virtue to select as their agents, such im : 

^ ...MJ 


) telligent, Ligh-minded men as will ably and faithfully rep- 
) resent their will and advance their prosperity. 
^ Thus we see that nothing but the most ample and gene- 
J) rous dissemination of knowledge among the people, will 
\ answer the purposes of the f miners of our government and 
^ tlie wants of the age. But in order more fully to set forth 
\ the benefits of popular education, I will proceed to notice 
\, more in detail some of the evils of the times. 
'^ The first that occurs to me, is that of Charlatanry. The 
I empiric and quack are to be found in every trade, business 
V and profession. In divinity, law, physic, agriculture and 
} literature, charlatanism is rife and abundant. As a repre- 
? sentative and exponent of the whole class of charlatans, let 
ij us instance tlie quack Doctor. Unable to cope, on fair, 
} open and equal terms wdth his professional brethren, he re- 
sorts to low cunning and indirection. He takes hold of the 
whims, ca2-> rices, prejudices and even the superstitions of 
the community, and with these he batters dow^i all opposi- 
tion, lie is the cheap doctor — the demagogue of the social 
circle — the hero of the ale-house and cock-fight, or if it is 
more politic, he makes long prayers and becomes a leader 
in public < evotions : 

♦' For who hath not seen dissimulation's reign, 
The prayers of Abel linked to deeds of Cain ?" 

Constantly, on the lookout and the pad, he is the recipi- 
ent of all the news and scandal of the day ; and as he ped- 
dles pills from house to house, he deals out marvels and 
slang. Slipping in the back door of his neighbor's patients, 
he gives him a cowardly thrust in the back, and astonishes 
the natives, with a narrative of the multitude and miracu- 
lousness of the cures he has performed. Thus, like the leech 
or the parasite, lie fastens himself upon the community, and 

-•^-'^ ^aroima Sfate Library 

it to be otherwise. Are not their demands, wishes, whims 
and caprices always consulted, — ^gratified and even antici- 

pated ? When France called for a guillotine, and Rome, 


never abandons his hold until he falls off exhausted by re- ( • 

pletion and satiety. But I desist. Why declaim against S • 

the quack ? As I before remarked with regard to the dema- ) • 

gogue, so I repeat with regard to the quack. He, too, is \ . 

only the creature of the people. If he flourishes in any i 

community, it is because he is demanded by that commu- ( ! 

nity. He can no more flourish in a community unsuited to I ' 

him, than corn or wheat can germinate and mature in a soil < 

\ unsuited for their growth. The people are too potential for ( 


' for a thumb-screw, a boot and a rack, the mechanics vied j 

with each other in supplying the demands. When England \ 

demanded a Cromwell, and Mexico a Santa Anna, they ) 

were both immediately forthcoming. Thus we see that pub- ) 

lie men are, generally, the creature of circumstance and the ( 

people : and we may declaim against the demagogue and > 

the quack, et id omne genus^ until our heads grow gray, but s 

it will avail nothing, we only strike at the effect while the \ 

cause remains intact As well might w^e attempt to stop { 

the current of the Mississippi by damming up its waters, J. 

while its fountain springs wei'e allowed to flow on, as to ) 

root out the demagogue and quack without reforming the \ 

people. But give the people light and knowledge, and ( 

above all, virtue and religion ; and you will see tiiese para- ) 

sites extirpated root and branch, as noxious woed^, before \ 
the scientific husbandman, or they will migrate, as birds of 
passage, to more genial climes. 

But, in shunning one evil, the people often fall into an- 
other and an opposite one. If quackery is a blight and a 

mill-dew upon the face of society, genuine and complete \ 



professional attainment must be an ornament and a blessing. 
Any popular vice tending to retard the highest profession- 
al })roiicie!icy, is decidedly pernicious, because it aids and 
comfoi'ts clir.Wataiiry. May not a too rigid exaction of 
unreasonable service from men of genius and intelligent 
masters of tlieir professions, produce this result? They are 
as much the creatures of the people as any other class of 
publi'C men. The opinion, that the man of genius is anon- 
descj'ipt, an exception to all general rules, altliough to some 
extent correct, is in the main, erroneous and pernicious. — 
For, 23oweiful as is the man of genius, he is not omnipotent, 
lie can, with means, and^ under circumstances appalling to 
lesser minds, accomplish grand and startling results. But 
he cannot })eiform impossibilities. He has formative and 
plastic, but not creative power; that alone belongs to 
the Deity. He must have material ; he cannot make out of 
nothing. Like otlier men, he must be fed, clothed and 
warmed : and it is askinof of him too much, that in an at- 
mospl>ei;e of meplrltic vapors, he should inspire, only, pure 
air — that in a time of famine, he should be sumptuously 
fed, and that in a barren desert he should furnish fuel ibr 
his fires. Yet all iLi-, and much more, is too often expect- 
■ed of the })rore3sional man. The people too often suppose 
that he can be clieei-ful, happy and successful, without a 
kind w ■■ . I, -A ;li veiiul smile or a single dime. For the poor, 
I e iims !:i'' H :.^}atis, and yet contribute liberally to all be- 
nevoirM! chh rpMses; Avhile the purse-proud coxcomb and 
Uii- wealth ^ St y lock, deal out with grudging hand and mut- 
ternij Ml', ' ' t T.ompetent fee, and leave him to infer that 
lie jiighi u/ uu sjiilsiied with the honor of their patronage. 
Although intellectual by far ti'anscends mamial labor, not 
only in dignity, but in the impaii'ment and exhaustion of 
physical healih also, the difference is not conceded, and oft- 



en indeed not recognised by the masses ; and conseqnently, 
professional men suifer. Why is tliis the case? Ignorance 
is the cause. She is a prolific mothei-, and lias a numerous 
progeny. Superstition, prejudice and bigotry, are lier eld- 
est born. These, like sturdy growling curs, stand in the 
patliways of every useful enterprise, and must eitJier be 
sopped or cudgeled, l)efore it can advance. What reform or 
progress has ever been assayed, but prej dice condemned it 
unheard and unseen, and bigotry laughed at its struggles 
and throes, while with fiendish malice, she trampled it be- 
neath her feet! And yet, educated and professional men 
are required to take the van in every useful enterprise, and 
to roll up the ball of every reformation. The busy world, 
too, notes nothing but success. And sliould they succeed, 
; like Faust, Roger Bacon, Galileo and the immortal Bunyan, 
) banishment, imprisonment, or temporary disgrace may be 
I their lot, if their discoveries and inventions are too far in 
advance of the age, or too diametrically opposed to the pre- 
) judices of the people. Again, I ask, what is the remedy? 
S The education of the people is the only panacea for these 
) ills. Educate the masses, and the hideous scales of super- 
stition, prejudice and bigotry, will fall from their eyes, like 
those from the eyes of Saul of Tarsus, and instead of breath- 
ing out slaughter and vengeance against reformers, and re- 
tarding the beneficent influence of the liberal professions, 
they will learn rightly to appreciate the blessings of each, 
and rejoice in being enabled to exclaim, 'whereas I w^as 
once blind, now I see.' 

We have a Common School System in North Carolina. — 
It was instituted only after long years of indefatigable ex- 
ertion, and even temporary self-sacrifice, by a few patriotic 
leaders in the grand work. It may, at first sight, appear 

standing all this, it is gratifying to find the cause of educa- 
tion advancing under the auspices of the School system, 
lame and impotent, as it is. Mr. "Wiley, the Common 
School Superintendent for the State reports, that in the year 
1840, there were only two Colleges, 141 Grammar Schools 
and Academies, and 632 Primary or Common Schools in the 


_ ^ J 

strange that the people, for whose benefit this wise and be- (^ 

neficent system was introduced, should have opposed it with ( 

so much bitterness. But we should recollect that although \ 

the people are fond of change, they are slow to recognise ^ 

innovation. Men have to be educated into improvement, \ 

whatever else they may adopt without investigation and ^ 

J with promptness. Hudibras has hit off this weakness of \ 

J mankind with, perhaps, too much severity when he says — ) 

) *'The world is naturally averse ) 

c To all the truth it sees and hears, , \ 

y But swallows nonsense and a lie / 

{ With greediness and glutony." ( 

\ ( 

• We should recollect, further, especially in connection with '} 

i this subject, that, this is an age of Mammonism. 'The \ 

J almighty dollar' was identified with the success of the en- J) 

) terprise. Money was to be raised. Tlie demagogue snutt- \- 

ed the sound, and " taxes, taxes " reverberated from Curri- \ 

\ tuck to Cherokee. " Will it pay "^ was eagerly asked by \ 

{ every one. "Will it pay"? — not in intellectual coin, bright ( 

\ and shining from the crucible of truth, and the moulds of ( 

{ science — but " will it pay back the dimes, with usury, and \ 

(■ diminish the taxes "? Thus, the system was ushered forth, ( 

\ a weak and sickly bantling, and it is even yet struggling { 

) • aerainst the same causes that retarded its birth. Notwith- ( 

) State, attended by only 19,843 children, while now we have ) 
\ five Male Colleges numbering 600 students, eight Female ^ 


Colleges, numbering perhaps, 1000 pupils ; SCO Academies 
numbering about 700 students, and 2131 Common Schools, 
in seventy Counties, numbering about 95,000 scholars. 

) Cheering as is this report, we must not be deceived by it, 

i or prevented from looking behind the scenes. The average 

) amount of the Common School Fund in the United States 

\ is $117 to the District ; in North Carolina, it is only $70. 

I Our Schools should be kept open eight, or at least six months 

\ in the year ; while the average time is perhaps less than 

\ four months. And lastly, of the 200,000 children in the 

{ State, not more than one half and probably not more than 
one third, attend school during the year. 

But the cause of these deficiences being the ignorance of 
the people, it only remains for the system to work its own 
cure. The generation now at school will be better educa- 
ted, and consequently more liberal in its views than the 
generation that is past : hence, we may confidently indulge 
the hope, that in a few years, the little light which the pre- 
sent generation has received, will so far open the eyes, 
hearts and purses of the people, that they will voluntarily 
contribute the amount necessary to keep the schools open 
the proper length of time; should it not be considered ad- 
visable to furnish the same by taxation. 

The same causes which are retarding the full develop- 
ment of our school system, are also operating against the 
growth of our Academies and Colleges. It is true that the 
intelligent portion of our people are doing nobly, at the 
present time, in endeavoring to build up institutions of 
learning, throughout the community. Catawba College is 
an evidence of this, for it owes its origin and sustenance to 
the liberality of a generous and benevolent public. But a 


few men cannot furnish every thing necessary to supply the 
wants of the people. Associated effort alone can do tlie 
work. Money is needed. This the benevolent ai.d the ed- 
ucated seldom have. The appeal must be made to the 
masses. They must be educated, in the Common School, 
into liberality and benevolnce. AYhen this is done, tliere 
will be no ditlicalty in rearing np and sustaining Insti- 
tutions of leaiiiing, but they will spring up, as if by ma- 
gic, and be generously endowed and liberally supplied with 
students. Then, the fool, as he rims can read and learn wis- 
dom. As men go to and fro on the earth, knowledge will 
be increased, and the time be at hand, even at the door, 
when knowledge shall cover the whole earth as the waters 
cover the great deep. 

The professions of Law, Physic and Divinity, have hith- 
erto almost entirely monopolized the talents of the educated 
young men of tlie country. But the day is, I trust, at hand, 
when this will ceiise to be the case. There are otlier profes- 
sions and employments equally honorable, useful and lucra- 
tive, wdiich open up inviting fields for the educated and tal- 
ented. I will only notice at present, one of these ; and that 
one is Agriculture. The causes which have hitherto retar- 
ded agriculture in North Carolina, and prevented men of 
science from engaging in its pursuits, are obvious. Men 
have been educated for the professions, but not for the 
!igh. Tlie necessity for a suitable and thorougli prepara- 
!, for alrno.^t any other business, except tlie tilling of the 
'.■' I, is readily conceded : but for that, the natural njan with 
n his ignorance and clownishness, is esteemed as fully pre- 
.. 'ed, without pi*eparation or cultivation, as Minerva was 
lOi her mission, when she sprang armed caj) a pie from the 
brain of Jupiter. The dull boy of the i'amily is made the 
farmer: and e\eiy body says ''he may dovery Avell for the 



farm, for he will never be fit for any thing else." Is it any 
wonder that the idea of ignorance, servility and degrada- 
tion is connected with that of labor? Can any business or 
profession be considered reputable, and can it prosper, when 
its votaries are thus degraded ? 

But necessity is making herirresistibledemands, that the 
cultivation of the soil shall henceforth be more scientific 
and professional. The slaughtered condition of the soil, is 
vocal against the murderous system of tillage which has 
heretofore been pursued. Unfruitful labor and pinching 
want, are creating a necessity for investigation and change, 
which must result in improvement. When farmers become 
convinced that the analysis of soils and manures, in the la- 
boratory of the chemist, more certainly shows their mutual 
adaptation, and conduces to plentiful crops, than long years 
of patient toil and observation ; we may expect a new era 
in agriculture. But the farmer must be educated before 
this can take place. The educated young men of the coun- 
try must turn their attention from Coke and Cullen to gua- 
no and poudrette, and become scientific farmers. The day 
laborer must become master of the science of agriculture. 
Then we shall see the profession elevated and honored. — 
All classes of people will seek honor and emolument in its 
pursuit, and that occupation which has sufi*ered so mucli in- 

l justice and injury in past times, will attain to the front rank 

I among the professions. 

^ Skepticism and infidelity are growing evils of the day. — 
They are the fruits of ignorance, The fool not knowing that 
a part cannot contain the whole, "says in his heart there is 
^ no God," because fursooth, with his finite mind he cannot 
) comprehend the Infinite. Whether this is to any extent at- 


tributable to the prevalence of the partial system of educa- 
tion, to which I have alluded, I will leave others to deter- 
mine. But may not the prodigious extent to which physi- 
cal science and improvement, have out-stript the moral and 
even the intellectual, tend in no small degree to develope 
and encourage materialism ? It is certain that the mania 
for riches, and the din, bustle and excitement of busy life, 
have choked the good seed sown by the way-side, and that 
the god of this world — the golden calf — is more worshiped 
than the God of our fathers. We need not, then be sur- 
prised at the contempt of law and order wdiich is so fre- 
quently exhibited of late, for 

«'Our decrees 
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead, 
And liberty plucks justice by the nose." 

To this cause, we may attribute the prevalence of spirit- 
ualism, socialism and Fourierism— of the startling dogmas 
.of Seward and Sumner — of the mental hallucinations of Lu- 
cretia Motte and Antonette Brown- — of the ravages of Mob- 
ocracy and Filibusterism, and the terrors and disgraces of 
Mormonism and Abolitionism. 

What is to be done? Shall we continue to declaim upon, 
bewail and deplore these evils and their cause? ISTo! but 
as wise men, let us apply the remedy — let us remove the 
cause. Educate, thoroughly educate the hearts and heads 
of the jDcople. Suffer the whole nation to slake its thirst at 
the "Pierian Spring." Let it take no "shallow draught," 
but let it drink "largely" and be "sober." Then shall \ 
righteousness exalt the nation, and the people be free from \ 
sin. i 

I have thus, young gentlemen, endeavored to encourage ) 


you in the prosecution of your studies, by holding up to 
your view the beauty, the utility and the excellency of plii- 
losophy and science: and by refering to the peculiarities in 
our form of government, and by glancing at a few of the 
vices and faults of the times, I have endeavored, also, to 
demonstrate the necessity of educating the masses of the 
people, in order to maintain and perpetuate our republican 
institutions, and free us from vice as individuals and a peo- 

Our country looks to her educated men to perform this 
great work. When you have finished your collegiate 
course, you will be considered as belonging to that class. — 
It becomes you then, constantly to bear in mind, that self- 
aggrandisement is not the object for which you should be 
educated, and that you should make no exclusively selfish 
use of your learning, but employ it for the benefit of your 
fellow men, and of posterity. 

I have already intimated that this end can be accomplished 
in the present st.te of society, better by turning the attention 
tonew pursuits, than by entering upon the beaten paths of 
the professions — especially those of Law and Medicine. The 
sciences of Geology and Mineralogy — of Civil Engineering 
and Mechanism, and of Agriculture and Meteorology, are 
rising every day in importance ; and are destined, together 
with Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, to produce a com- 
plete revolution in society. The names of Maury, Hitch- 
cock, Morse and Liebig are, already, as renowned as those 
of our Statesmen, Physicians and Divines, while their la- 
bors are destined, in most points, to inure as fully to the 
benefit of mankind. 

Such is my opinion, with regard to the choice of the means 


by which yon are to attain the great end for wliicli you are 
ediicatecl. Important as is this clioicc, it is only because it 
is tributary to wise and salutary ends. ISTever then, lose 
sig'lit of th.e end in search of the means, but seize upon and 
employ all honorable means for the accomplishment of 
great and useful purposes, and for these only. Among the 
latter, next to the practice of virtue and reb'gion, stand the 
claims of our country and of our home. Let us love our 
country, our whole country. For her let us labor, and for 
her let us become scholars and christians; because the love 
of country is a holy passion, not selfish and vain glorious, 
when rightly exercised, but having its origin in the most 
generous sympathies of our nature, its aim and end is noth- 
ing less than the most exalted and extended philanthropy. 

But while we glory in the title of American citizens, while 
we cherish and defend the Constitution of these United 
States as the palladium of the Union which we love and re- 
vere; and while we discharge faithfully, our whole duty 
with regard to these, let us not forget the good old North 

ISTorth Carolina has awoke from her slumbers, and is be- 
ginning to 'shake off the dew drops which glittered on her 
garments,' and is preparing 'as a strong man to run a race.' 
But her rivers are yet to be navigated — her minerals of 
gold, silver, iron, copper and other metals, are to be mined 
— her vast subterranean coal fields are to be exhumed, and 
to pour forth their incalculable stores of wealth into the lap 
of the Commonwealth — her Schools, Academies and Col- 
leges are to be built up — her soil is to be reclaimed, and her 
fields are to be made 'to blossom as the rose' — her 'Central 
Rail Boad' is to be extended to Beaufort on the East, and 


Tennessee on tlic West, building np on the one liand a 
gieat Kortli Carolina City, and on the otlier foi-niing a con- 
nection ^vith the valk\y of the Mississippi, whicli it is lioped 
and believed will yet coniiniinicate with California by the 
(jreat Pacific Rail Road. If so, th.en along this road the 
commerce of two oceans — the oriental pearls and golden 
wealth of old Asia, and the splendid tapestry and gorgeons 
products of the looms and woikshops of Enrope, together 
with the travel of the world — is to wend its way ; spreading 
abroad on either side, like some majestic liver, life, happi- 
ness, fertility and wealth. In a word, this Old Xorth State, 
wliere the first European settlement was made in these 
United States — where the first hlood was shed in the Colo- 
nies in dei'ence of popnlar i-iglits, and where the first De- 
claration of Independence was made, mnst become what she 
deserves to be, and what every trne-hearted North Caroli- 
nian wishes her to be — the first State in the Union. 

But the world is bnsy and alive around us, and is rush- 
ing on, npon the wheels of destiny, to some hidden goal in 
the future. Revolutions in society and government succeed 
each other as rapidly as 'the shifting scenes of the horo- 
scope.' The rush of battle, and the clash of arms, are waft- 
ed to our ears from the Baltic and the Black sea — fi'om Eo- 
marsund and Sebastopol. We annually behold the exodus 
of nearly half a million of people from the shores of Enrope 
and their entrance npon our own soil. The tide of popula- 
tion has already dashed beyond the Bocky Mountains, and 
swept on to meet an opposing current from the Celestial 
Empire and the sunny isles of the sea, in the land of gold 
and pearls, the Eldorado and Ophir of this Western Hem- 

Let us be careful that the busy scene around us does not 

• • • 

• • « 

• e • • 


divert our attention from the only means by which w^e can 

r secure prosperity and h||ppiness for ourselves, and for our 

I country. Let us not, like the fabled Acestes, go gazing and 

^^ shooting at the stars, when we have work to do at home. — 

) Let us be true to ourselves and we cannot be false to others. 

\ Let us see to the welfare of our own State, and we will be 

) j)^"^^^cting pro tanto^ that of the Union; for, if any part 

. suffers, the whole cannotbe sound. 

"England expects that every man will do his duty" was 

( the only appeal that Lord Nelson made to his patriotic ma- 

■ riners on the eve of the terrible conflict of Trafalgar. 'Sol- 
diers," exclaimed Bonaparte to his troops in Egypt, 'from 
the summit of those Pyramids, forty ages are looking down 

: upon you.' The hero of the ocean wave appealed to patriot- 

: ism and to duty. The Conqueror on a hundred battle fields 

\ appealed to glory and to fame. They did not appeal in vain. 

) To you, young men, I appeal in the name of both. Duty 

\ and glory are inseparable. Discharge your duty to your- 

■ selves, your country and your God, and you will be happy 
\ and useful ; and if not honored and applauded here, you 
( will be certain of-glory leyond this vale of tears. Do your 
I duty, and leave consequences with God, then like the he- 
( roes of Bueno Yista and Trafalgar, each one of whom in his 
5 last moments exclaimed, ' I have endeavored to do my du- 
( ty,' thou mayest 

\ . "approach thy grave, 

Like one that draws the drapery of his couch 
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.' 

rth gaw>Hn« ^«iW U&tfa 




GC 370 R179e 

Ramsay, James Graham. 

The education of the masses of the peopi 

3 3091 00170 9096 











^ Stockton'; conf.* RESTRICTED 



The c^ducation of the masses of the people